Jail is not something any of us like to think about, but jails exist and they serve a purpose. As the crime wave gripping the control continues to rise, prisons and incarceration become even more of a necessity.
Whereas the jails that are filling up every day across the country have a very big problem going on. The problem is that they don’t have enough prison guards and workers.
Why is this and how can it be changed?
Why is There a Shortage?
Right now in Texas, for example, 34% of prison jobs are unfilled. That’s a lot of short-staffed prisons. Even though pay for most jail jobs is going up in places like Texas, people aren’t applying for the jobs.
For one thing, it’s very overheated in some jails without air cooling systems; for another, working in prison is widely known to be dangerous and mentally and emotionally stressful.
Many states are noticing shortages similar to Texas and putting up the amount of pay accordingly to attract new recruits. Many prison guards have been retiring as well, which is leaving vacancies that are difficult to fill.
If you see more billboards and TV ads and hear more radio recruitment pitches looking for prison guards and staff, including maintenance and cooks, then it’s because the problem is very much real.
The minimum age at which you can become a prison guard has even been lowered to 18 in order to try to get more young people started on a corrections career at an early age.
NEW: As a Palm Beach County summit on life after incarceration approaches, one of the greatest fear people have is returning back to their community worse off than when he came in — the severely understaffed, violent prisons need a major upgrade. @WLRN https://t.co/g2iNqeehE7
— Wilkine Brutus (@wilkinebrutus) September 27, 2022
How Are Shortages Impacting Prisons?
Staff shortages have had a very bad effect on many prisons. For one thing, they exhausted current employees by pushing them into working more and more overtime.
The shortages also led staff to be overstrained in keeping an eye on all the inmates, which means more fights are breaking out and prisons are becoming even angrier.
In order to get to the shower, doctor, hearings, and more, prisoners need to be escorted by a guard. Though when there aren’t enough guards, they end up waiting a long time or even missing appointments and necessities.
Then, they get angry. Then, fights break out, shouting, self-harm, and so forth. The result is a worsening spiral of chaos in American prisons, which are already tough enough places as it is.
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida even sent the National Guard to help in prisons and on watch towers a few weeks ago, due to what he called the “severe” lack of enough prison staff.
Florida state prisons currently pay $41,600 per year to start and have a $1,000 sign-up bonus, which they are hoping will also draw more new workers.
Alabama inmates are in their second day of a strike, refusing to work in prison kitchens, laundries and factories. They say they're protesting conditions in the state’s crowded, understaffed lock-ups. https://t.co/v8pdGxRWUm
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 28, 2022
The Bottom Line
If you want to be a prison guard or prison worker, there are plenty of jobs available.